RNY FC is off the slide, back in the win column, and into the top four of the MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference table.
All it took was ONE WIN.
But wow, was it a long time coming.
Rochester got two first half goals against a New England Revolution II defense that has been allowing goals for fun all season, and came away with a 2-0 victory Saturday night in the penultimate home match at John L. DiMarco Field on the Monroe Community College campus.
With the win, RNY FC jumped back to within a point of third place Philadelphia Union 2 (Rochester’s next opponent), and to within two points of second place Toronto FC II (RNY FC’s opponent on Sept. 11). More importantly, Rochester is now three points ahead of sixth palace NYCFC II, and a point ahead of fifth place Inter Miami CF II, although Miami has a game in hand.
But at this point in the season, you want the points accounted for already.
For the first time in six weeks, Rochester had a lead at the intermission to hold in the second half, and that advantage came early. You had to go back to May 14 to find the last time RNY FC scored a goal in the first 20 minutes, and it was Gibran Rayo from the spot in just the fifth minute of play Saturday that gave the hosts a huge shot of momentum. Rayo slotted home for his team-leading 12th goal of the campaign, and Rochester was off and flying against the Revs II.
While the first goal was important, the second RNY FC tally, which came right before halftime in the 40th minute, was massive. Will Inalien beat his defender down to the byline and played a deftly weighted ball across the six that two attackers ran past. But Edward Williams was making a far post run and smashed it home to give Rochester a two-goal advantage to defend in the final 50 minutes.
The team had not won in six weeks, but the belief was there that they could hold that lead and take back control of its playoff hopes. That was exactly the case, as Rochester kept its first clean sheet since July 16, which was the second of back-to-back shutouts for RNY FC.
If you keep a clean sheet, you can’t lose: in five of its eight wins, and two of its draws with an extra point won in penalties, Rochester has kept its opponent off the scoresheet. That makes up 19 of RNY FC’s 33 points. In the rest of their games (14 others of 21 played so far), Rochester has gone 3-8-3 and picked up 14 points.
So with three matches left, can RNY FC limit the teams it faces?
It might just be the key to make the playoffs.
A quick congratulations to Columbus Crew 2, who locked up the first MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference title over the weekend. Columbus will be one of four teams in the bracket from the East, with Rochester hoping it is in the bracket somewhere.
RNY FC: at Philadelphia Union 2, Sunday, Sept. 4, 5:30 p.m. EDT, Subaru Park
NE Revs II: v Orlando City B, Friday, Sept. 2, 5:30 p.m. EDT, Gillette Stadium